Necessity and Promise

January 13th was the 11th anniversary of Bob Swann's death.  Bob was a friend of economist Fritz Schumacher and inspired the Schumacher Center for a New Economics' work on local currencies and the commons.  The following was written for his tribute book.  It anticipates the BerkShares loan program and the Agrarian Trust.  
 
Join us in remembering Bob.

Coming of Age

The Schumacher Center for a New Economics is recognized for its work modeling community-based systems for holding land, issuing currency, and engaging citizens in supporting their regional economies. That work is now growing, reflecting a "coming of age" for a new economics that considers what is just and equitable for all Earth's citizens while caring for our shared ecosystem.  2013 was a great year for the Schumacher Center, with exceptional lecture events, remarkable media attention to our BerkShares program, and the launch of several initiatives reconsidering how land is accessed.  

America Emerging: Culture and Economics

America's task among the nations is to shape a just, equitable, and ecologically responsible economy.  The economic is our realm, our element.  As Americans, we move in and through the economic confidently and flexibly.
 
Even when we have achieved financial stability we do not hesitate to recognize a new spirit, a new direction in the economic, and throw caution and convention aside to support it. Or, we sense when our economic decisions have gone awry and we pick up and start again, undaunted.
 

Endangered: Your Local Economy

Is there an independent bookstore, a local bike shop, or an old-fashioned camera shop in your community?  If so, they need saving as urgently as the Piping Plover or Plymouth Red-Bellied Turtle.  To preserve these businesses, we need to preserve their habitat—a habitat of small, locally owned enterprises, trading with one another, welcoming customers by name, paying town taxes, providing secure jobs, donating gift certificates to benefit the Little League Team, and serving on town boards.

Lessons from Basque Country

 

In the 1950s Father José María Arizmendiarrieta, the village priest of Mondragón in the Basque region of Spain, inspired the development of a series of cooperatively owned industries to employ youth in his parish.  His vision was that, through ownership by the workers, the wealth created by new industries would be distributed to the workers and to the larger community that nourished and supported them.

 

Community Supported Industry

Identifying a Strategy

 
Building a responsible movement for a new economy will require planning how to create new jobs without increased growth.  One approach is a strategy of import-replacement, with more labor intensive, smaller batch production, transported over shorter distances. The goal would be to create more jobs, but not more "stuff," with a smaller carbon footprint overall.  This may be an ambitious objective, but it is necessary if we are to transition to an economic system that is both equitable and sustainable. 
 
Such a strategy will take a cultural shift as well as an economic one.

The home of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics is the Berkshire region of Massachusetts.  As we are committed to the implementation as well as the development of a new economics the task for us has been how to create a diverse and vital Berkshire economy independent of, and resilient toward, fluctuations in the outside economy.  The process has engaged us with local, regional, and national partner organizations working to identify solutions to similar problems.
 

Ensuring a Strong Voice for Change

Our members helped build a voice for economic change. 
 
Past membership support of the E. F. Schumacher Society, a small organization founded in 1980, allowed it to develop a solid theoretical and practical base of work, positioning it to offer positive solutions when the need for change became broadly apparent.  
 
That time has come. 
 

New Economy Emerging

In September of 2011 the European Spirituality in Economics and Society Forum convened "Responsibility in Economics and Business: The Legacy of E. F. Schumacher" in Antwerp, Belgium—one of many events marking the Centennial of Schumacher's birth. We have posted keynote talks by Simon Trace, Barbara Wood, Susan Witt, and Stewart Wallis at our website:  centerforneweconomics.org/schumacher
 
SIMON TRACE, Executive Director of Practical Action, spoke on "Responsibility in Technology."

Role of Money in a New Economy

In considering the characteristics of a new economy, the question of money arises:  What is the appropriate role of money? What entity or entities should govern its issue? How much should be placed in circulation and on what basis? What determines its value once in circulation? How might its very structure favor financing for regionally-based businesses producing goods in a sustainable manner for local markets?
 

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